After 13 long years of waiting, Tool finally released their fifth studio album titled Fear Inoculum on August 30th. Not only has every single song on the record hit the Hot Rock Song Chart, they knocked Taylor Swift down to number two, sparking her fans to be dumbfounded over who Tool is. It has grown to be quite hilarious, and even Tool’s lead vocalist Maynard James Keenan is having some fun with the whole thing as he pokes fun at the obvious. Swift fans have never heard real music and their attention span cannot comprehend authentic musicianship and a song longer than four minutes. Fear Inoculum is confirmation that rock can rise and rise again. So while milennials continue to ponder over this “new band” Tool, the rest of us who have been born and raised on real music will sit back and get lost in this masterpiece that Maynard James Keenan (lead vocals), Danny Carey (drums, synthesizer), Justin Chancellor (bass guitar) and Adam Jones (guitar) have created.
While the physical album only has seven songs lasting a total of just under 80 minutes and only include one instrumental track called Chocolate Chip Trip, the digital download version includes three additional instrumental tracks Litanie contre la Peur (French for Litany Against Fear), Legion Inoculant and Mockingbeat bringing the length of the album to about 86 minutes consisting of an incredible juxtaposition of instruments, elements and Keenan’s passionate vocals. This is an album best listened to on a quality stereo and when you have the time to truly appreciate and spiral down the rabbit hole of twists and turns that slowly unfold through the album’s concept.
The title track, Fear Inoculum opens with intense violin and flows into a new age vibe and sexy guitar riff as the song continues to build and move in contrasting directions. The second track, Pneuma demonstrates a more classic Tool sound. It is probably the most radio-friendly song on the album aside from Culling Voices and vastly different from how things started off. Once you get to Chocolate Chip Trip, the near five-minute instrumental hallucination of Carey’s drums are both complex and striking. 7empest is the heaviest track and longest track as it creates a climactic moment the rest of the album has built up to. The album ends with Mockingbeat, an instrumental grand finale with bird sounds and ethereal beats.
Fear Inoculum was more than worth the wait and Tool has raised the bar after such a long creative break. Die-hard Tool fans and musicians who enjoy the technicality and intricate components of music will enjoy this record the most. This is a record best defined as an “experience” that will require several listens to take it all in, there is so much going on that in order to truly soak in every piece that makes this album great it should be listened to in its entirety. It may not be for everybody and you will either love it or you will hate it, yet still appreciate it. Either way, Tool has truly displayed their master level of musicianship on this album and it will be held in a timeless state. Could Fear Inoculum be the Dark Side of the Moon of its day?